ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, 09|17|2011 – 02|05|2012
Mladen Stilinović

* 1947 in Belgrade (RS), lives and works in Zagreb (HR)

An artist who cannot speak English is no artist, 1994

It is difficult to conceive of contemporary art and the new channels of communication as being separate from one another: the Internet and mass media should facilitate the limitless access to news and to knowledge, something which is essential for critical and engaged art; that it is only through this that the organization and mediation of complex transnational projects can be carried out. However, the necessary technologies and languages for this have to be mastered; whoever denies these or has no opportunity to learn will also be barred entry to the utopian “global village.” With the saying “an artist who cannot speak English is no artist” Mladen Stilinović gives a cutting commentary on an apparently global art world. The words are sewed onto a banner like a slogan; however, it still remains open as to whether these amount to a demand, a protest or an expression of resignation – since formulated in English the statement is, after all, “generally understood.”
Since the 1960s, Stilinović has been working in Croatia at the center of an art scene which was no less active or relevant – no less “artistic” – than that of West Europe. The question as to a world language of art thus remains unsolved: prior to 1989, English was the language of the capitalist part of the world which laid claim to the “grand narrative” of art and thus to the definition of who may be considered an artist; in the present age, English enables worldwide exchange. Does this mean that those who are unable or do not wish to use this language are not contemporary artists? (JB)

An artist who cannot speak English is no artist

An artist who cannot speak English is no artist
, 1994